Spark announced today it has won a four-year deal for FIH (International Hockey Federation) media rights in New Zealand. These rights include the Hockey World Cup, the Hockey Pro League and Olympic Qualification, plus rights to the National Hockey League. All rights are for live and on demand coverage of both women’s and men’s competitions from January 2019 to the end of 2022 and include all Black Sticks fixtures.
Notably, the FIH Pro League is a new international competition that will run from January to June 2019, with matches in New Zealand and overseas. Spark has production rights and will be host broadcaster for all FIH Pro League matches in New Zealand.
This is Spark’s first sports partnership that includes local production rights, demonstrating Spark’s ambition to become a key player in the local sports market as well as a provider of international sports coverage.
NEP New Zealand, part of the NEP Worldwide Network, will be Spark’s production and outside broadcast partner for the FIH Pro series. NEP run more than 2,000 hours of Australian broadcast production each year, including key live sport titles (NRL, AFL, Cricket, MotoGP, Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix). As the FIH Pro League hits off in Auckland in January 2019, all initial Black Sticks matches will be broadcast live on TVNZ 2. However, once Spark’s new service goes live, matches will be available exclusively from Spark Sport.
Head of Spark Sport, Jeff Latch, says Spark was thrilled to be supporting New Zealand hockey. “This deal means New Zealanders will be able to watch our national Hockey teams live every time they play in New Zealand or overseas – and will have more access to live hockey event coverage than ever before. Across all the events, every year there will be hundreds of hours of play available on Spark Sport.
“We’re excited to be taking on the responsibility for local production and broadcast, in conjunction with our production partner NEP New Zealand, for the inaugural FIH Pro League. We’re really proud to be working with New Zealand Hockey to ensure hockey fans get to enjoy all the games in New Zealand.”
FIH CEO, Thierry Weil says: “I’m delighted that FIH could sign a media rights agreement with such a strong partner as Spark. This new partnership will give hockey more exposure than ever before in New Zealand, thus substantially contributing to the development of the game, which is FIH’s number one mission.”
CEO of New Zealand Hockey, Ian Francis, says, “We are excited by the opportunity that a partnership with Spark Sport brings. It will allow the Black Sticks and hockey in New Zealand to reach a larger audience both locally and globally. Spark Sport already has a strong line up of sports and being part of this service will open up hockey to an audience that might not have previously considered watching it.”
The hockey rights are in addition to the rugby, football and motorsport content already announced by Spark, including the Rugby World Cup 2019, the Premier League from August 2019 and Formula 1 from March 2019. More content rights will be announced in coming weeks.